Dr Tincuta Heinzel

  • Textiles Senior Lecturer
  • Leader of Textiles Design Research Group

I’m an artist, designer and curator interested in the relationship between arts and techno-sciences, with a special focus on electronic and reactive textiles and wearable technologies.

After visual arts and textiles design studies at the University of the Arts Cluj (Romania), I completed my studies (MA) in cultural anthropology at “Babes –Bolyai” University in Cluj (Romania). I was awarded my PhD in aesthetics and arts sciences from Paris 1 University Pantheon - Sorbonne (France) in 2012 with a thesis on the foundations of electronic and reactive textiles’ aesthetics. My PhD thesis examines the changes that had occurred in the field of textiles in the context of digital production technologies and the introduction of new textile materials, nano-technologically treated.

I initiated, curated and/or coordinated several projects, such as “Artists in Industry” (Bucharest, 2011-2013), “Haptosonics” (Oslo, 2013), “Repertories of (in)discreetness” (Budapest / Bucharest, 2013-2015) and “Attempts, Failures, Trails and Errors” (Bergen / Bucharest / Maribor, 2017-2018). As an editor, I published “Art, Space and Memory in the Digital Era” at Paidia Publishing House (Bucharest, 2010) and coordinated Studia Philosophia‘s issues on the “Phenomenology of Digital Technology” (no. 3/2010) and “Nomadic, Migrating, Commuting and Wearable Technologies and their Infrastructures” (no.3/ 2017).

I have been working on a series of research projects related to the integration of electronic textiles in smart environments at Berlin University of the Arts (Germany) and Nottingham Trent University (UK) and I hold research positions in electronic arts at KHM - Academy of Media Arts Cologne (Germany) and ZKM – Center for Media Arts, Karlsruhe (Germany).

For now, under what I label as “aesthetics of imperceptibility” I am investigating the aesthetic issues of nano-materiality and electro-magnetism in textiles and the fabrication issues related to reactive textiles. My other areas of research are: art and design research and methodologies, aesthetics, philosophy of technology, science and technology studies, participative design, multi-modal interaction design, material and visual culture studies, economic models accompanying the digitalization and the cybernatization of the industry and the social implications they are entailing.

I joined the School of the Arts, English and Drama at Loughborough University as Senior Lecturer in Textiles in 2017, having previously held a position as Fulbright Senior Research Fellow at Cornell University (USA) in the Nanotextiles Laboratory. Since 2015 I am visiting professor at "Ion Mincu" University of Architecture and Urbanism in Bucharest (Romania). I’m also a member of the 2580 Association (Cluj, Romania) and of Paidia Institute (Cologne, Germany).

Since February 2018 I am Leader of Textiles Design Research Group.

My practice and research evolved around electronic and reactive textiles, technical textiles innovation processes, including nano-textiles, as well as social, economic and cultural aspects of textiles industry. With backgrounds in textiles arts and design practices, as well as in design theory and philosophy of technology, I conducted research on the new aesthetic aspects of textiles (textiles and sound, textiles and interaction, etc.) and I took part in a series of projects related to the development of interactive textiles for smart homes and environments. For now, under what I label as “aesthetics of imperceptibility” I am investigating the aesthetic issues of nano-materiality and electro-magnetism in textiles. I am also interested in the economic models accompanying the digitalization and the cybernatization of the industry and the social implications they are entailing.

Most recent research activities include:

Attempts, failures, trials and errors project

In the era of “fast prototyping,” academic work driven by “publish or perish,” and competitions addressed to start-ups, this exhibition represents an attempt to reflect upon the actual technological boom and the desuetude of the innovation speeches. The project encourages a sustainable approach that takes into consideration the whole fabrication process – from conception to consumption, wearing out and degradation of technology –, focusing on obsolete products, failed prototypes, and rejected electronic textiles projects and technologies.

Questioning the relation between failure and success, the project relies on art’s capacity to analyze in a critical and, at the same time, poetic and self-deprecating manner the matter of contemporary technological advance. We must not forget that arts are called upon to address critically the medium in which they operate. More than mediators of science and technological development through spectacular interventions, contemporary artist often become “critical cultivators,” questioning the daily life context and encouraging critical debates on present practices in design and in the technological development field.

By questioning the idea of failure and success, the project puts an emphasis on art’s critical capacity, while at the same time to poetically and self-ironically address contemporary challenges and concerns. This exhibition is the start of an ongoing investigation and is as such a test in itself. It presents a collection of the responses to our open call for technical trials and errors, failed prototypes, and rejected art and design works.

After a presentation during the Pixel Festival in Bergen (Norway) and an exhibition at “Salonul de Proiecte” in Bucharest (Romania), the project “Attempts, failures, Trials and Errors” was presented for a third time at Kibla Multimedia Center in Maribor (Slovenia).

Utopian cities,  programmed societies project

Often neglected in the science and technology studies (STS) research, the history and the concepts developed in the ex-socialist countries from Eastern Europe might prove of interest in the present globalized and digitalized world. Aiming to build and to develop a new form of social organization based on Marxist ideology, the socialist states have developed science and technological tools to help them design their environment and to plan their economies. Incited by the debates related to the “new man” and the “new societies”, architects, designers, economists and technicians (or in other words, the technocrats), were invited to reflect and to bring to reality the new societal models. Architecture, urbanism and cybernetics become soon important tools of reflection and modelization of society.

If the modernist architecture had opened the way to the definition of new habitat units (see Le Corbusier’s attempts in the 1920s and 1930s), cybernetics was seen as a scientific tool to ensure the mathematization of the theory of planning used by the socialist economies. There where the liberal doctrine had searched to create the image of an organic regularisation of economic processes through the balance between offer and demand (see, for example, Michael Polanyi’s writings on economy), the socialist states used cybernetics as a scientific tool of systemic design, management and regulation (see the Polish economist Oskar Lange’s writings). Some of the cybernetic principles are nowadays to be found in the over present discourses related to smart cities and artificial intelligence (Orit Halpern, ….).

More details to come soon…

  • Textiles Research Report
  • Material Culture
  • Drawing: Discourses and Debates
  • General conference chair, Textile Intersections, 12-14 of September 2019, Loughborough University, London Campus, UK.
  • Chair, TEI’19 – Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interactions Conference, Tempe, Arizona, USA.
  • External reviewer, Horizont 2020 EU Projects, EU Commission, Brussels, Belgium (2017).
  • External PhD examiner, Royal College of Art, London, UK (2015).
  • Reviewer for ISEA 2011 Conference, CHI 2015/2016/2017 Conferences, DSR 2016 Conference, ISWC 2016 / 2018 Conferences, etc.
  • President of 2580 Association, Cluj, Romania.
  • Member of Paidia Institute, Cologne, Germany (www.paidia-institute.org).
  • Member of the editorial committee of Studia Universitatis Babes-Bolyai Philosophia Journal, Cluj, Romania.
  • Board member of ANCF - The Romanian Administration for National Cultural Fund. (2009-2011)
  • Member of UAP - Romanian Union of Visual Artists.